Tiger’s unwelcome slam
The police keep trying to show up at Tiger Woods’ house and they keep getting shooed away. The Florida Highway Patrol is being treated like nearly everyone else seeking a private word with Woods through the years: No way, no how, no comment.
Sunday they were brushed off for a third consecutive day as they tried to investigate a Friday car accident. Woods instead issued a statement on his website.
“The only person responsible for the accident is me,” the statement read. “My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble.
“This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.”
Woods won’t be required to speak to officers following the accident. He just needs to provide his driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. It’s unlikely he does more than what’s required; Woods’ ample legal team knows the stakes are high. It’s not the crime, after all; it’s the cover-up.
Woods has long been the dullest celebrity in the world. With an early morning, low-speed, single-car, end-of-the-driveway accident, though, he’s now in the middle of a cauldron of intrigue, heated by all the usual tabloid ingredients – money, fame, sex, mystery.
If he does ever speak to the police, it will be a jarring experience for someone who is fiercely private and obsessed with control. No one tells Tiger Woods what to do, with whom to speak and what questions to answer; at least not since he thrilled the golf world by winning the Masters at age 21.
It was the start of a legendary career that has him on the brink of billionaire status for swinging a golf club better than anyone on earth.
He has more handlers and yes men than you can count. Anyone who’s ever broken his privacy demands has been summarily fired – from lawyers to his first caddie.
Early Friday morning, though, Woods’ tranquil world was shattered along with the back window of his Cadillac Escalade. At 2:25 a.m. he tried to depart his home in a gated community outside of Orlando and managed an almost impossible driving trajectory – a 120-degree turn – and wound up hitting a fire hydrant and a neighbor’s tree.
As one person mentioned to me on Twitter: “He was a mailbox and a parked car away from the Tiger Slam.”
And that’s where this story has gone – to comedy. Once the initial report that Woods was in “serious condition” became nothing big, just some facial cuts and an apparent lapse of consciousness, this morphed into America’s favorite pastime, mocking the rich and famous.
Tiger’s driving has always been erratic, hasn’t it?
Post-crash Tiger slammed his steering wheel against the ground and blamed a photographer for snapping a picture in mid-lane change.
And so on.
The basis of the speculation is pretty simple. On Wednesday the National Enquirer published a story saying Tiger was messing around outside his wedding vows. The mainstream media mostly ignored it, but then suddenly Tiger was in a wreck very late the next night.
The timing was impossible to ignore. This isn’t John Daly smashing a car as he pulled out of an Arkansas Hooters. This is Tiger Woods. Nothing ever happens with Tiger Woods.
“I think Elin and I have avoided a lot of media attention because we’re kind of boring,” Woods once wrote on his website. And it’s true. They mostly sit around their mammoth home behind the high brick walls and play with their two kids or watch movies. For a big adventure Tiger may go to a NBA game or drive his oversized boat – his first one was named “Privacy.”
An early morning car wreck involving Tiger was completely out of character.
Look, even if the tabloid is wrong – the other woman in question has vehemently denied the affair, Woods hasn’t commented – you’d have to figure it was, at the very least, a topic of conversation around the Thanksgiving table, right?
A husband gets called out for an affair in a supermarket tabloid and it’s going to be discussed. In detail. Probably over and over.
And so questions are raised over the wreck and the bloody lip and how anyone could drive so poorly to cause an accident like Woods did. To pull out of his driveway and wind up where his Escalade did requires either a purposeful track or a wild swerve. He didn’t just lose control of the wheel for a second.
And since police reports claim the airbags didn’t deploy and he was going less than 33 miles an hour, it would seem he had plenty of time to avoid hitting two separate things on the wrong side of the road.
Then there was Elin’s supposed heroic save-her-husband act. According to the police report, she heard the accident from the house. She says she ran out and found her husband injured behind the wheel.
She could’ve called police or the community’s private security firm – which was about 30 seconds away.
If she wanted to help Tiger out of the car – even though it wasn’t on fire and waiting for the paramedics is generally the best policy – she could’ve just opened the door and pulled him out. Pictures of the SUV show minimal damage past the grille, not surprising since an Escalade is a massive vehicle. It’s highly unlikely the doors were wedged shut.
If the door was simply locked, she could’ve gone and gotten a spare set of keys and opened it. She could’ve done a million things.
What she claimed to police she did was go get a golf club and smash in both back windows of the SUV so she could, apparently, drag her unconscious 190-pound husband over a row of seats, shards of glass and out a window – a task best suited for a World’s Strongest Man competition. Even so, why the need to break windows on both sides?
And that’s where this went from plausibly innocent to the conversation du jour around the country.
A married man. A tabloid mistress. A potentially scorned wife smashing the windows of his car.
Tiger Woods is a country music song.
Woods’ nature is to never speak of this incident. As long as there isn’t going to be a divorce, no news needs to seep out. For what it’s worth, Tiger is still in the house, although we don’t know if he’s sleeping in his bed or one of the 37 guest rooms.
He’s no doubt thought about skipping his tournament in Los Angeles this week, citing injuries from the crash. He won’t reappear in public until late January at a tournament outside San Diego. He can give one interview to a sympathetic media member who is under stern orders not to press anything and then claim he’s done discussing the situation.
He might crack a bad driving joke before the Masters, reminding everyone what a likeable guy he is.
And that will be that; which is his right. All the public-relations spin doctors are clamoring that he needs to address this, but what good will that do? It’s not golf related. It won’t affect his marketability too much, and even if it did, does he really need more money? Maybe he makes $50 million next year rather than $100 million.
He’s a golfer, not a moral-crusading politician. Saying nothing may not convince people who suspect this was a wild marital incident – TMZ.com is reporting some of Woods’ injuries came from Elin, not the car crash – but no amount of explaining will do that.
People are going to believe what they want. He’s a cad. She clubbed him. Whatever. It’s too late for damage control now.
The only problem is those pesky cops. No one likes being lied to, but the police can do something about it. Unless Elin’s unbelievable story is somehow true, then this gets a little tricky.
Let’s say this was as crazy as you can dream up. I wouldn’t blame Elin or Tiger, in the heat of the moment, from trying to concoct a story that made it sound a little more innocent. Other than the fire hydrant, there’s no aggrieved party here. No crime was committed – unless you want to stick Tiger with driving without a seat belt.
They should be able to move on.
The police may see it differently.
So what does and doesn’t get explained to investigators – comments that will become public via the police report and could cause further legal headaches – is paramount.
Which is why you can’t blame Tiger and Elin for delaying the interview a couple of days, or indefinitely, if possible.
As much as America wants to know the truth, it’s their life, perfect or not. I’d be stunned if Tiger didn’t just politely hand over his information, lawyer up and deal with whatever he needs to deal with in his typical manner – privately.